By Joe Beck
A Virginia Beach man initially charged with 68 counts of burglary, larceny and vandalism, all of them linked to a wave of storage locker break-ins, was sentenced to one year and four months in jail Wednesday in Shenandoah County Circuit Court.
The case against Jamey Joe Friend, 36, was complicated by a lack of response from victims when the prosecution attempted to contact them about the extent of their losses in the crimes. The sentence was part of plea agreement reached between Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Lou Campola and defense attorney Peter McDermott.
"We did not receive any victim cooperation," Campola told Hupp.
Hupp said he was initially troubled by the plea agreement and called the absence of participation by the victims "bizarre" and "curious."
"I can tell you at first blush that I had great pause because of the number of charges," Hupp said, adding, "the main thing that drove this, it seems to me, is the lack of cooperative property owners."
Law enforcement officials with the Shenandoah County Sheriff's Office and Mount Jackson police said Friend broke into five storage locations between Sept. 1 and Oct. 22, 2012, and hit several of them more than once. The list of stolen items included furniture accessories, a variety of tools, sewing machines, electronic gaming devices, auto parts and accessories and Christmas decorations.
The burglaries were committed at Hawk's Storage in Toms Brook; Stone House Floors and Storage in Strasburg; Woodstock Self Storage; Added Storage in Woodstock and Cheap Storage in New Market.
Friend's total sentence is 20 years on 12 counts that include burglary, larceny and vandalism. Hupp, in accordance with the plea agreement, suspended all but one year and four months of the jail time and also sentenced Friend to three years probation. Hupp also ordered restitution payments to be determined within 90 days.
Friend entered an Alford plea, meaning he continues to maintain his innocence but accepted the plea agreement because he believed it was in his interest to do so.
Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or firstname.lastname@example.org